i took a drive to remagen. it was stop and go on the highway and my throat hurt, but i kept singing to occupy my mind. i arrived just in time, but my doctor didn’t open the door, when i rang the bell. i texted him.
“are you stuck in traffic?”
no reply. i waited another twenty minutes before i rang the bell again. this time he opened the door. the doorbell broke a couple weeks ago, he wrote a note onto his hand: fix the doorbell. he was a mess. so was i. that’s why i liked him.
we sat down in two cushy, black armchairs facing each other.
“what’s up?” he asked and i leaned forward, exhausted.
“i’ve been feeling pretty shitty and i kinda hoped, that i wouldn’t feel this shitty so soon after my last shitty episode”.
he nodded and we talked. talked about solitude and existential loneliness. about dating and friendships. about my hatred towards my japanese classes and about abusive relationships, that hurt people we loved.
he made me smile too. the first genuine smile in a couple of days, that actually made me feel slightly better.
“i started playing the piano again”, i told him, “it’s been five years since i last played”. the keys felt odd under my fingertips. an awkward caress, min yoongi had called it. the keys felt comforting too. i was shaking hands with a younger self i had forgotten.
back home, i pulled a pink plastic bag out of my letterbox. sent by lee hyun cha, it said, from korea. the book i pulled out of the bag felt heavy in my hands, even though it wasn’t that big. it was beautiful. hardcover. a black skin and ‘pieces of you‘ written in delicate golden letters. even before i opened it, i knew, that i held a beating heart in my hands.
two years ago. i finished my first book and when it arrived and i held it in my hands for the first time, it felt exactly like that. because i had poured my soul into it. so did tablo. ‘his stories offer a warm hand to the shoulders of anyone who is lost, anyone who is struggeling to discover the subversive concept of self‘, lee byung ryul wrote. the man himself, left a handwritten note on the first page. small handwriting. february 2009. a signature. ‘my heart was closed. cold. i was self-conscious and cynical […] here i am, choosing to kick away the ladder so that i remain by your side. i understand your solitude. i see your shadow‘.
i immediately started reading. headphones in my ears. today it’s sufjan stevens, who sings harsh words in his soft voice. ‘oh, the dead. twenty-seven people. even more, they were boys, with their cars, summer jobs. oh my god. oh, are you one of them?‘ there is a piano somewhere in there too. or maybe not. but for me, pianos are everywhere. piano boys are everywhere too. with broken hearts and bleeding souls. i am one of them.
I finished the first story on my way to university and when i walked to my classroom, i had to hug the book to my chest, because it hurt. it hurt so much, his words, but at the same time, it felt like a hug as well. it hurt, because he spoke the truth and he did it in a comforting way, holding my hand, telling me: it’s alright. i understand your solitude. i see your shadow. he really does.
i am hurting. i am physically hurting in this great solitude. my fingers yearn for the pianos keys. i miss the piano at the clinic. a friend made me want to play again. he taught me the first song in five years. i miss him, but i miss myself the most.